Editor’s Note: Remarkable Women is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life. This is the first of 4 weekly stories.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “Two years ago I really thought my greatest personal challenge was going to be overcoming a recurrence of breast cancer,” Kristin Bride told KOIN 6 News. “That changed on June 23, 2020, when Carson quietly ended his life while we slept.”

Carson, her son, was 16.

“I miss him,” she said. “He was always thinking of others. He was sensitive. He gave the best hug that a mother could ever experience. He would literally just, like, lift me up off the ground. He loved scary movies, which I didn’t. He loved the jump scares. He loved Magic: The Gathering, playing that card game and video games and was social, liked to be around people.”

Carson Bride, right, playing a card game in an undated photo (Courtesy: Bride Family)

Kristin felt close to Carson but later learned there was something he wasn’t comfortable sharing.

“In the weeks that followed, we learned that he had been viciously cyberbullied by his high school classmates who were using Snapchats, anonymous apps, YOLO and LMK to hide their identities,” she said.

The apps have policies about banning cyberbullies and revealing their identities. That, she said, pushed her to reach out to YOLO 4 times. She never heard back.

“It was really at that point that I had a decision to make — whether I just accept this and cry and be all down or develop a plan to fight back,” Kristin said. “And I chose the latter and have been dedicating my life to advocacy against social media harm.”

Her mission is “to make the world safer”

Sabrina Clairmont admires her friend Kristin Bride and nominated her for the Remarkable Woman recognition.

“Kristin’s mission and her goal is to make the world a safer place for kids,” Clairmont said. “She could easily say, well, I hope things get better, but she’s not. She doesn’t want any family, any child, to have to go through what she experienced. And I just think that that is incredibly amazing to put that energy into it.”

Their sons met several years ago at school. The moms connected, too.

Clairmont said her son, Zach, looked as Carson “as his little brother. And so they went to school together and we have a video of Carson and Zach in PE, and they had to choreograph a dance together. They were great friends and it’s just really touched our family in so many ways.”

She added Kristin “didn’t waste any time at all” in diving into being an advocate against social media harm.

Carson Bride (Courtesy: Bride family)

“Carson’s last request of us,” Kristin said, “was that we donate to Lines for Life so that no other teen would follow in his path. And I think that’s a pretty remarkable ask for 16-year-old, who was clearly in so much pain.”

Since then, Kristin Bride has helped raise more than $40,000 for the local organization that is available around-the-clock for people of all ages. Lines for Life aims to prevent suicides and substance abuse while promoting mental wellness.

Only 12% of teens will tell their parents when they’re being cyberbullied because they don’t want to be a snitch — and they’re afraid their phones will be taken away, she said.

“I’ve also been contacted by other parents locally whose children are being cyberbullied, as well. And I never want another parent to feel as alone as I did when this happened,” she told KOIN 6 News.

Carson’s Law

Nearly a year after Carson’s death, Kristin testified for Oregon House Bill 2631. That day she told Oregon lawmakers to “not let one more Oregon student die because a school did not report incidents of harassment, intimidation, bullying and cyberbullying to parents.”

The bill requires Oregon school districts to report incidents of bullying to the parents of both the victim and the aggessor, she said.

“This bill finally passed after 3 years and they have nicknamed it Carson’s Law, which means so much to our family on a national level,” Kristin said.

Now she’s fighting for life-saving changes on the national level.

“Last May I worked with the Tyler Clementi Foundation to file a national class action lawsuit against Snapchat, YOLO and LMK. And as a result, Snapchat immediately suspended the two anonymous apps that were used to cyberbully Carson,” she said. “As a good friend said to me, ‘You will never know how many lives were saved by that act.'”

On October 26, 2021, Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told Carson’s story at the congressional hearing with Snapchat.

“Carson,” Sen. Blumenthal said, “was relentlessly bullied on anonymous apps.”

Kristin said she is “actually really hopeful with the momentum that’s building in Congress, that there will be legislation passed to keep our kids safe online.”

Kindness matters

Kristin Bride in an undated courtesy photo

A few simple words sum up why Kristin Bride does so much: Kindness matters.

“I continue to reiterate to them what my shirt says here: Kindness matters,” she told KOIN 6 News. “Carson was somebody who always wanted to make a difference and improve the world. And I am just grateful that he’s doing it.”

Though her relentless work for Carson is very public, she has some personal, special spaces at home.

His love and influence is part of the strength in this remarkable woman.

“It’s still a heart, it’s still beating, but there is a big gash through it with emptiness and all the things that I had wanted for my son that won’t happen.”

Carson, she said asked that some of his ashes be buried under an apple tree. Those apples would be his gift to them, she said.

“We redid our back area to feature this apple tree. And I actually found one that is named Sweet 16, which is how old he was when he passed,” she said. “Giving back, you know. I’m trying to do that in the work that I’m doing to honor him.”

Remarkable Women is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life.

Throughout Women’s History Month, KOIN will highlight four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women. It’s not just about one day or one month — it’s about what they do, day-in and day-out.

One woman will be named Oregon’s Woman of the Year and win a $1,000 donation to her charity of choice! From the more than 100 local winners, one woman will be selected and named Nexstar Media Group’s Woman of the Year